Darian Barlow is a sophomore Communication student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an intern at the Say Something Program within Safe Passage.
PTSD, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “is a serious potentially debilitating condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist incident, sudden death of a loved one, war, violent personal assault such as rape, or other life-threatening events.”
Many of those afflicted by this disorder experience extreme depression, anxiety and difficulty within their personal relationships. PTSD can cause someone to have difficulty in their ability to perform even the most mundane of tasks. For example as Gaga states in her letter, “It’s harder to do my job. It’s harder to do simple things like take a shower. Everything has become harder.”
This disorder is a very real and present problem within our community, and acts of interpersonal violence can only inflate the numbers of those afflicted. According to the ADAA website, approximately 7.7 million Americans age 18 and older have PTSD, and approximately “67 percent of those exposed to mass violence have been shown to develop PTSD”, significantly higher than other traumatic events.
So how does the violence done onto one person manage to afflict the community at large?
The simple answer is that everyone is interconnected. Depending on the degree of our relationships, the trauma experienced by someone close to us can be just as damaging as trauma done unto us personally. And if an act of interpersonal violence leads to death, it brings an immediate awareness within the community; people often times feel an obligation as a member of the community to reach out to those affected, and a sense of interconnectedness forms within the masses.
Therefore, while the violence is brought upon just one person, it sends tremors within the community once others are made aware. Whether that affects a small amount of people such as friends or family, to a city-wide or nation-wide community, the impact is tangible and present within the lives of these people.
Violence affects everyone, and often times, PTSD is a consequence of this interpersonal violence. This is exactly why we have prevention efforts such as Say Something in order to engage a community into preventing the exact violence which devastatingly affects them at large.
So I’d like to sincerely thank Lady Gaga for bringing light to an issue that stems from the interpersonal violence which we aim to prevent here at Say Something. PTSD is a severe mental affliction and deserves to be treated as such without the negative stigma surrounding mental illness.
As Gaga quotes her doctor within the letter, “It is my opinion that trauma occurs in an environment where your feelings and emotional experience are not valued, heard and understood… This lack of a ‘relational home’ for feelings is the true cause of a traumatic experience. Finding support is key.”
It’s our job as a community to create an environment where interpersonal violence is not only condemned, but where people’s experiences are heard, valued, and responded to effectively and compassionately.
If you or someone you know is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, feel free to follow this link in order to access services which will help:
For local resources, follow this link.
If you want to help take preventative measures against interpersonal violence, check out opportunities at http://www.saysomethingnow.org/